Years ago one of our sons returned from a date with his girlfriend. They’d gone to a movie and decided to walk out because the film proved to be less than worthy.
What was interesting to me at the time was his exasperation when he got home—something that turned out to be a teaching moment for me and what he later said was a maturing moment for him. Remember, they’d walked out because the film got nasty. I was proud of them for doing so. But when we talked about it at the dining room table that evening he said, “But Dad, it was PG-13. It was supposed to be OK.”
Yeah, it was supposed to be OK. He’d wisely checked the ratings, as we’d taught our kids to do, to assure he wasn’t taking his girlfriend to a raunchy movie. But the film’s language and sex scenes belied the rating.
The teaching moment was this: “Checking the ratings was a good thing. But a rating of PG-13 doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good movie, or one that’s worth your time and money. Hollywood or critics may say it’s a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it actually is. A rating is one indicator. It helps, but you still have to think. You have to exercise your spiritual discernment.”
Through that experience my son learned to think more carefully, purposefully, and thoroughly. He learned to apply his Christian worldview and to flex his Christian critical thinking muscles. He took another step toward mature spiritual discernment.
Thinking, particularly the kind where we apply knowledge of the Scripture to life’s everyday issues and events isn’t what it used to be. In my estimation, as a culture if not individually, we give over too much to a host of pretenders we let do our thinking for us—celebrities, politicians, preachers, athletes, super models and super stars. Meanwhile, we forget how to think.
But God created us to think. He created us as reasoning if not always reasonable beings and he entrusted us with the responsibility to think well and wisely. This we must do to care for our selves, families, country, and world. God wants us to think, to discern as the Scripture calls it.
Spiritual discernment is rooted in Philippians 1:9-11. It’s the act of using biblical principals and values to decide what is best so that we may live the Christian life the way God intended. It’s about holiness, Christian liberty, independent judgment, and mature decision-making. It’s the act of living “in the world” while being “not of the world.”
We’d do well to rediscover how to “think Christianly,” as philosophy professor Arthur F. Holmes (who just passed earlier this fall) used to say.
What, for example, does Christian spiritual discernment suggest about these thorny issues?
Immigration; religious professions or protestations of presidential candidates; gay rights; respecting Muslims while disagreeing with tenets of Islam; deficit spending and debt; global warming; cohabitation without marriage at any age; healthcare; welfare.
The list of issues needing, nay crying, for Christian thinking is virtually endless. So I say, learn to discern and think Christianly…about everything.
How do we rediscover and reactivate thinking Christianly? By learning biblical doctrine, by understanding the principals and values we’ve drawn from biblical doctrine, by learning about real world issues—not just reacting, and by integrating our biblical, Spirit-guided discernment with real world concerns.
As long as we breathe, we can never “not think.” We live, we are Christians, therefore we (should) think Christianly.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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